26 June 2016
TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK,
MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION
INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN COULTER FROM ABC NEWS TASMANIA
Subjects: Federal Election
Senator, it's been a long campaign, what have you been hearing from Tasmanians about the issues they care about?
Well I mean the underlying theme of the campaign is that people are concerned about employment and their jobs. They want I think a stable economy and they I think want sustainability in Government. So I think we have a real opportunity to look at that.
We have experienced Members of Parliament, we have some very good local Members of Parliament who've now had a term and very experienced second term. So I think that what Tasmanian people are looking for is good policy, responsibility in the context of management of the economy and good policy.
You say people want stability, how stable to you think it is when you've got the party's Senate ticket with a Minister and former ticket topper dropped down to that potentially unsafe position?
Well I think it's really demonstrated by the fact that we've worked together through the campaign and since the preselection to maximise the Liberal vote. I've been saying that right since the outset. Obviously you'd prefer to be higher up the ticket and that's only natural but that's the way that the ticket has been decided and that's not going to change.
So ever since the preselection process the task has been to maximise the Liberal vote and work together to do that and that's what we've done.
Are you hearing much from voters about your position on the Senate ticket and how and whether they should vote below the line? Are you telling them they should do that?
Well there is a mood to support individual members of the team, myself included. I've detected that around the state where ever I've been people have come up to me and said we'd like to support you. What I want people to do is to vote for the Liberal Party in whichever way they see fit to do. I'd obviously appreciate their vote but I want them to vote Liberal because I think that our philosophy, our team, our plan will provide the best opportunities for Tasmania.
The work that we've done over the last three years and the negotiating free trade agreements for example really does do a lot for Tasmania. The new opportunities for Tasmanian business and industry, our agricultural businesses, our fishing businesses, our aquaculture businesses, our advanced manufacturing all have the opportunities to access those new and exciting markets in Korea, Japan and China in particular.
To see what the other side of politics is looking at including opening up those free trade agreements is a real risk. I was talking to Andrew Robb last week and he said if you open them up you won't close them. We can't afford to go backwards to take a step backwards with the opportunities that we've provided for Tasmania through those free trade agreements. We have a sound economic plan, a plan to bring the budget back to surplus and a plan to spend modestly but responsibly on all of the things that are important to Tasmanians.
You're in not the same but a similar position to Lisa Singh, there's a community campaign to re-elect Lisa Singh and she says to us that she doesn't have anything to do with that campaign. There's a similar one being run on social media for you, do you have anything to do with that campaign?
Look we're in a similar position, there are members of the community who feel strongly about our particular circumstance and they're looking to support us and so there are people out there who are running campaigns because they'd like to see us re-elected. They are individual campaigns they are separate from anything that we or the party are running and as I said to you at the outset, I've worked very hard with the rest of my colleagues at a state level but also my House of Reps colleagues and Senate colleagues to maximise the Liberal vote and that's what I'll continue to do until the Election.
Apparently there are vote below the line campaign to elect Richard Colbeck radio ads running today, they're not anything to do with you or not authorised by you?
No, I wasn't aware they were running today so that's news for me. They're certainly not authorised by me and they're not established by me.
What do you think your chances are, probably better than Lisa Singh at the moment? Are you confident that you'll be re-elected on Saturday?
Well look, if we retain the same amount of primary vote as we did at the last election I will be re-elected. I think that the dynamic is slightly different this campaign. The new voting system does change the electoral dynamic of Tasmanians being used to voting below the line in the Hare Clark system that may change things a bit.
So, I suppose I'm a little apprehensive about where the vote might fall but as I said, I would hope that Tasmanians will positively respond to the work that I've done on their behalf during my term. I hope they will reward the hard work because I've always advocated for Tassie. I want to see this state continue to improve in the context of its prosperity and all of the (inaudible). That's what I've always focussed on. So I just hope that Tasmanians will reward that effort and that focus.
Are you worried that the Jacqui Lambie Network will get a second seat? You certainly don't sound to be a huge fan of hers?
Well look I know Jacqui very well and we've worked, she was a member of the Liberal Party for a period of time, so we both know each other fairly well. I don't think that Jacqui has done the right thing by Tasmania on a number of occasions and on some critical votes. So I would ask Tasmanians to make that choice.
I've always worked to be straight with Tasmanians in telling them what I think will be for their benefit. I've used evidence to base the policy work that I've done and I've always worked to understand the issues as well as I possibly can and annunciate a policy that I know will benefit Tasmania.
I'm not out to pretend that I can do something that I know that I can't or that won't work. Sometimes that's not popular but I'm about being straight with people and I have been honest with what I think will work and that's why I'm such a great advocate of the free trade agreements for example and Jacqui Lambie voted against the China Free Trade Agreement and we know that's a huge benefit for Tasmania. She voted against coastal shipping reforms which I know will reduce the cost of shipping out of Tasmania. So in those particular important votes, Jacqui voted against Tasmania and that's something that I won't do.
Are you disappointed in the Liberal party because of the position that they've put you in this election?
Well look I said to The Advocate just after preselection that I was a tad grumpy and of course you're disappointed at not being at a safer spot on the ticket but as I indicated to you before, that's the way the numbers fell and what I want now is for people to vote for the Liberal Party to support our policies and our strong plan because I think that's best for Tasmania. That's why I'm happy to be out there advocating for it and I've worked hard to have input into that plan and to ensure that it is responsible and will support the continued growth of the state.
Again our record reflects the fact that when we came to government the unemployment rate had an 8 in front of it and now it has a 6 in front of it. Economic conditions have improved in this state and the circumstances of business see their confidence at the highest level in the country.
So I'm happy to stand on my record in government and the policy work to help get us there and the policies that I took to the last election and have since implemented. More than happy to stand on my record and continue to advocate for re-election of the Turnbull Government.